A citizens’ movement from Goa said on Saturday that it has approached the Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) against the expansion of railway lines cutting through two protected forest patches in the coastal state.
The group, Save Mollem, has opposed the doubling of the existing railway track, which runs from Karnataka and passes through the Mollem National Park and the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary in Goa, saying the work will harm the environment as well as the Goan culture.
In its letter to the WII, an autonomous institution under the Union ministry of environment, the group said that several villages in the vicinity of the railway track have heritage homes up to 200 years old. It claims that 25 eminent architects and planners have backed its fight against the linear project. “The letter points out that the walls and floors of these classic homes have in many cases already developed cracks due to the operation of the existing track which will be exacerbated by the addition of another line and the corresponding increase in rail traffic,” tweeted Save Mollem seeking to garner more support for its movement.
A Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee in April 2021 said that it did not find any justification for undertaking the rail double-tracking project in Goa, which is also being opposed by environmental experts.
The panel said a project of this nature would destroy the fragile ecosystem of the Western Ghats, which is an internationally recognised biodiversity hotspot and also one of the most important wildlife corridors of the country.
In their letter to the director of WII, the signatories have noted that a group of 179 architects from Goa have already raised the alarm about the danger to the state’s future and its unique cultural heritage, said Save Mollem.